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marktynernyc

Oaxaca Dining

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So good to hear from you, Rachel. I would be delighted to contribute to this forum more often and welcome inquiries.

As for Bariloche and its chocolate, I regret that I have never been there nor tasted its chocolate. I do know that it is a hot bed for chocolate, however. I've had several students from that area and know that there must be some good chocolate there somewhere.

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Since I am currently in Oaxaca, I thought I would resurrect this post.

I wanted to let everyone know about the organic market that takes place Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at El Pochote.

El Pochote is located on Garcia Vigil, 700 block. This fairly new market has the very best of what the Oaxaca organic growers have to offer. While still small - I counted ten vendors this morning - it is very strong.

Vendors of note are Arbol de la Vida, a 6 acre organic farm run by Valerie Nadeau. One acre of the farm is dedicated to lettuces that supply many of the areas restaurants and can be delivered weekly to your home in Oaxaca. Today I picked up the last of the snow peas, New Zealand spinach and a purple kohlrabi.

Carnes Orgnaica y Caseras, Estilo Artesania, is run by Simon Waldherr, who is making an exotic range of sausages from beef, pork and criollo turkey. The turkey and ground nuts is hugely popular, as is a Turkish style borrego (sheep) and the daily special today was Rabbit sausage perfumed with juniper. Home delivery is also available and the sausages run between 12 to 15 pesos each.

Next up is the Ricardi farm that produce the most tasty organic goat milk yogurt and two cheeses, queso de cabra which is a queso fresco - one plain and one with garlic and herbs. The other is a requeson, which kind of like a ricotta cheese. It was sweet and delicate and not at all "goaty". The Ricardi family also make cajeta and cajeta candy.

Other offerings at the market are organic honey, coffee, mescal, bee pollen and natural cotton clothing.

There was even a demonstration of solar powered cooking. The complete unit of two silver coloured cardboard panels and special double lined pot was offered at $450. pesos. The dish cooking for demo purposes was an organic potato, onion and oregano stew and was almost done when we showed up at 12 noon.

_________________

Dropping off a gift for a friend at Restaurant Casa Olivo, we discovered the chef owner Javier Olivo Cantero, making his own Jamon Serrano. Being sorely deprived on serrano ham in B.C., Canada, we simply had to sit down and order some.

He showed us the fridge where three enormous piernas were in various stages of curing. A plate of thinly sliced jamon was presented on toasted bread that had been spread with an olive oil and tomato mixture. The sweet fruity aroma of the freshly shaved ham was intoxicating, the flavour sublime.

We ordered another 1/4 kilo sliced for a party that evening and I am still dreaming of it days later.

Casa Olivo is on 5 de May 407 and specializes in Spanish cuisine. Portions are hardy and I also recommend the half duck, deboned and braised in a sauce of olives, tomatoes, sweetpeppers, potatoes and onions. Enough for two people at $175. peso.

Will post again soon for the next installment.

Feliz Navidad,

Shelora

So good to hear from you, Rachel.  I would be delighted to contribute to this forum more often and welcome inquiries.

As for Bariloche and its chocolate, I regret that I have never been there nor tasted its chocolate.  I do know that it is a hot bed for chocolate, however.  I've had several students from that area and know that there must be some good chocolate there somewhere.

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Shelora,

Thanks for the information on the organic market in Oaxaca. Sounds as if it wonderful stuff. If any of the followers of this list have run across similar markets, it would be great to hear about them.

What is clear is that the big growers have decided that the value-added margin for organic fruits and vegetables for the US is worth it. They are moving heavily into organic for export.

Around here (Guanajuato in central Mexico) I don't have the sense that people are willing to pay the extra. But small local companies producing local procesed but non-organic foods are just booming,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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In the village of Jaltepec, Jalisco, a small organic farming operation--Asociación Comunitaria de Autosuficiencia--is having a small success. They not only grow beautiful organic vegetables and herbs but train their employees in the benefits of farming the same way at home. Their fine produce is sold at retail in several places near Guadalajara and is used as well in several restaurants, including the nearby culinary resort Xilonen, owned and operated by Rose Marie Plaschinski of Slow Food fame.

Their intern program has attracted university students from several international spots.

If anyone is interested, I have contact information for ACA. They operate on a shoestring (a sometimes frayed shoestring at that) and need all the support they can get. Grants and private donations pick up the financial slack that sales often can't cover.


What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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Teotitlan del Valle, about 30 minutes outside of Oaxaca City, is home to exquisite weavers and a must on every tourist's itinerary. It is also home to the rather famous Tlamanalli restaurant, where the Mendoza sisters reign with their food representing this village.

Now, visitors can learn first hand about the distinct foods from this village by attending a cooking class at Casa Cerro Sagrada that is perched above the village proper.

For only $65. USD., the class, which includes transportation to and from Teotitlan, begins with a quick tour of the morning market. Quick is the operative word here as the market is over in a matter of two hours or so.

This market is where you will be introduced to the some of the more unique offerings of the village. Toasted and ground black bean powder to make soups, also a black bean paste that is aromatic with avacado leaves, hand ground to a paste on the stone metate - still very much a mainstay of the Zapotec kitchen here and precursor to the blender. We pick up some warm blandas made from yellow corn, much bigger than a tortilla.

We pick up a treat in the form of pan de cazuela - a chocolate and raisin stuffed bun brought in from neighbouring Tlacalula.

Armed with ingredients we are driven to the top of the mountain to Casa Cerro, a 12 room guest house. The garden is filled with hoja santa, wild tomatoes the size of an 'o', mint, avacadoes and passion fruit vines. The classes are taught by resident cook, Reyna Mendoza who regularly teaches visiting classes from all over the U.S.

Today the menu is a tamal de Mole Negro, a mole enchilada, a salsa de chile pasilla de Oaxaca (a smoked chile from the region), a salad of nopales, tomatoes and avacado and for dessert a banana ice cream. We dine overlooking Teotitlan and the surrounding hills toasting the event with shots of the smooth house mezcal.

During the class we learn many cooking tips; excess heat from soaked chiles can be eliminated or reduced by discading the soaking water and rinsing the chiles in hot water. And the very helpful hint when straining a sauce of a chile mixture, you can stop struggling with trying to extract every last bit by throwing the remainders back in the blender since you are blending in batches. (I hope that made sense).

The salsa preparation was fascinating as the chilies were "cooked" in the hot ashes - very distinct here. The chiles were buried in the ash until they puffed up and changed colour,tops cut off and seeds removed. Some of the ash is left in (and no, you cannot taste the ash).

There were only five of us in the class this day, but Casa Cerro can accommodate up to 25 and a minimum of four. So perhaps you can gather some friends together and check it out. The classes are held every first and third Friday of every month but during Christmas they were being held every second day.

Check their web for more info or fire off your enquiries to info@casasagrada.com and their web is www.casasagrada.com

Missing Mexico,

Shelora

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Dropping off a gift for a friend at Restaurant Casa Olivo, we discovered the chef owner Javier Olivo Cantero, making his own Jamon Serrano. Being sorely deprived on serrano ham in B.C., Canada, we simply had to sit down and order some.

He showed us the fridge where three enormous piernas were in various stages of curing. A plate of thinly sliced jamon was presented on toasted bread that had been spread with an olive oil and tomato mixture. The sweet fruity aroma of the freshly shaved ham was intoxicating, the flavour sublime.

We ordered another 1/4 kilo sliced for a party that evening and I am still dreaming of it days later.

Casa Olivo is on 5 de May 407 and specializes in Spanish cuisine. Portions are hardy and I also recommend the half duck, deboned and braised in a sauce of olives, tomatoes, sweetpeppers, potatoes and onions. Enough for two people at $175. peso.

thanks so much for this tip.. spent a few weeks along the Oaxaca coast and we shot up into the city for a long weekend in mid-January.. came across your post from the internet spot on the Zocalo and made a beeline straight for Casa Olivo.. the ham was wonderful and while i don't recall what else we ate, all the food was great..

Oaxaca is a bit odd in that there's great low brow eating at the taco and torta shops and some of the basic commedores and then there's a relatively new influx of gussied up Oaxacan classics that don't quite do it for me.. Casa Olivo, while definitely being aimed at the tourist/expat community, doesn't have the same odd feeling that we found at any of the other swanky places in town..

it's casual but the food is great.. thanks again for this great tip..

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Dropping off a gift for a friend at Restaurant Casa Olivo, we discovered the chef owner Javier Olivo Cantero, making his own Jamon Serrano. Being sorely deprived on serrano ham in B.C., Canada, we simply had to sit down and order some.

He showed us the fridge where three enormous piernas were in various stages of curing. A plate of thinly sliced jamon was presented on toasted bread that had been spread with an olive oil and tomato mixture. The sweet fruity aroma of the freshly shaved ham was intoxicating, the flavour sublime.

We ordered another 1/4 kilo sliced for a party that evening and I am still dreaming of it days later.

Casa Olivo is on 5 de May 407 and specializes in Spanish cuisine. Portions are hardy and I also recommend the half duck, deboned and braised in a sauce of olives, tomatoes, sweetpeppers, potatoes and onions. Enough for two people at $175. peso.

thanks so much for this tip.. spent a few weeks along the Oaxaca coast and we shot up into the city for a long weekend in mid-January.. came across your post from the internet spot on the Zocalo and made a beeline straight for Casa Olivo.. the ham was wonderful and while i don't recall what else we ate, all the food was great..

it's casual but the food is great.. thanks again for this great tip..

Hello, here is a quick update on Javier's restaurant. He has moved locations to Zarate No. 100, Centro, on the other side of the Parque Llano.

It is an open space, and as usual, welcoming. Here is a picture of Javier with his sweet Jamon Serrano in the courtyard/bar.

According to experts who have tried jamon serrano all over Spain, Javier makes the best. I agree.

He buys his pigs from Toluca, which he says, has similar conditions to those in Spain.

javierjamonserrano.jpg

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Casa Cerra Sagrada perched atop Teotitlan del Valle has a new and improved website. The addition of horseback riding looks inticing in that great countryside.

Sagrada

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Feb. '06 Oaxaca report. NB: I don't pretend to be a Mexican food expert.

We went to El Naranjo twice and it was excellent, both the moles and stuffed peppers. Also the best margarita we had. We went to cooking class there too, and it was a lot of fun; prepared and ate zucchini (at least, something like a zucchini) vinaigrette, mole amarillo, two great salsas, and cake tres leches. I might not make mole often, but I'll be making a lot of salsa now that I understand the techniques better.

Casa Oaxaca the restaurant was also good, I recommend the shrimp with chiles arbol. Marco Polo was very pleasant if not great, and the baked platanos with crema are a fine dessert.

In simpler restaurants, we had two good meals in La Olla and one exceptionally bad one at Maria Bonita, praised elsewhere in this thread.

On the Zocalo, we liked breakfast at La Primavera, especially the molletes with chorizo.

Off the topic of food, my wife and I loved the Temazcal sweat-lodge plus massage experience, a bargain at p$1200 for two. You book at Las Bugambilias B&B, although the site is uptown (p$50 taxi ride). You can't get much more relaxed....

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With my last trip to Oaxaca in November of last year, I realized that as much I love Mexico City, Puebla, Querretaro, and Guanajuato, my future excursions will be solely to Oaxaca. I had gotten into the habit of saving some money by flying into Mexico City, taking the bus from the airport to Puebla for a night and continuing on to Oaxaca the next day. But, factoring in the time (which has always been pleasant) and the hotel cost in Puebla, I think in the future I will bite the bullet and take the direct Houston Oaxaca flight.

My last stay was at the Casa Lidia, which, although owned by the same family which owns Posada Chencho is very reasonable. I loved being outside of the main part of town, so I could do more walking. My Spanish classes were convenient. I will probably always stay here. I used to like the Hotel Trebol because it was directly across from Juarez market, but the tiles absorb a lot of heat which then radiates at night and the rooms can be very warm.

I had to decide if I was going to do some biking and take some cooking classes or take Spanish classes. Opting for the latter, I did squeeze in one class through the school. But I was very close to the small market that Luisa Cabrera visits and I spent some great hours walking, talking, and shopping there.

One of the high points was a night of Lucha Libre which I truly love.

Even though this was the quietest time of year, there was still so much activity, including a nightly festival celebrating the music of the west coast of Oaxaca.

The zocalo is rebuilt, I approve of the changes they made.

Now, I have been coming here since the 80's. These days I buy kilos of chocolate, a few comales, and that's about all. Our house is too full of handicrafts. This time however, I went to Atzompa and bought some ceramic angels which were unique.

I am currently teaching two Mexican cooking classes and one is based on Mexican chocolate, including truffles, German chocolate pie a la Mexicana, a bourbon chocolate genoise, etc. The trick with Oaxacan chocolate is, because it has such granularity from the sugar, and since it would be difficult to temper in one's home, you need to dissolve the sugar with just enough liquid to do so, but no more.

The organic market is indeed wonderful, the organic jamaica, coffee, and chocolate are first rate.

Vanilla. I use the vanilla extract that Susana sells as flavoring whenever heat is not involved. However, based on an article in Cooks Illustrated and my own experimenting I have decided that Adam's Best, which is a blend of natural and artificial results in the most intense vanilla flavor whenever heat is involved.

Chocolate, well, for hot chocolate, it is always Chocolate Mayordomo, but I increase the quantity per cup. For baking, I default to one of the lesser chocolates that don't contain almonds, those from the North like Nestle's Abuelita for example.

And that big bag of SAF yeast from the convenience store in 2004? I am still using it. Everyone should put this on their shopping list. :>)


Edited by Jay Francis (log)

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Planning a trip to Oaxaca and have found postings here extremely helpful - thanks! Looking forward to chocolate and chile scene there, including a cooking class or two. But wondering how much seafood I will find there. Regardless, I'd still like to get to water (my partner wants to hit the beach) for a few days.

A long time ago, I read an article about mobile food in Mexico that talked about things like oysters sitting out in the sun, as well as salt-rimmed cocktail glasses packed with shrimp, then filled with tomato-and-shrimp broth plus lime plus cilantro and served with oyster crackers. But not sure where to find things like this.

So... any suggestions on a place to add on to a week or so spent in Oaxaca? I don't want it to entail another flight unless it's a cheap one. I see that Huatulco is an interesting ride south from Oaxaca, but not sure if there's anything going on there or nearby. I'm told Zihuatanejo is an interesting option, but that ground transportation from Oaxaca is challenging. And, to make this more challenging for you, I'd love a place that isn't just a beach/resort scene, as I'd like to do/see something while my partner enjoys the beach. [That said, I read on another board that the Yucatan Peninsula might offer the combination food/beach/sight-seeing that I'm seeking, but I'd have to give up Oaxaca which I'm reluctant to do.]

Help! Open to any and all thoughts and ideas!

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So... any suggestions on a place to add on to a week or so spent in Oaxaca? I don't want it to entail another flight unless it's a cheap one. I see that Huatulco is an interesting ride south from Oaxaca, but not sure if there's anything going on there or nearby. I'm told Zihuatanejo is an interesting option, but that ground transportation from Oaxaca is challenging. And, to make this more challenging for you, I'd love a place that isn't just a beach/resort scene, as I'd like to do/see something while my partner enjoys the beach. [That said, I read on another board that the Yucatan Peninsula might offer the combination food/beach/sight-seeing that I'm seeking, but I'd have to give up Oaxaca which I'm reluctant to do.]

Help! Open to any and all thoughts and ideas!

Ground transportation is extremely difficult out of Oaxaca City, 8+ hours to Puerto Escondido and the southern coastal areas; add another 8+ hours to get to Zihuatanejo. Fly. It's under an hour flight over the mountains and around $100. The Yucatan has the ruins, the Oaxaca coast is glorious unspoiled beaches, except for the buildup at Huatulco, and to a slightly lesser degree, that at Zihuatanejo. They're both definitely big resort stlyle towns though, without much local flair.

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Los Crotos in Puerto Escondido for huachinango a la parilla, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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...as well as salt-rimmed cocktail glasses packed with shrimp, then filled with tomato-and-shrimp broth plus lime plus cilantro and served with oyster crackers. But not sure where to find things like this.

I don't recall the "salt-rimmed cocktail glasses" packed with anything but margaritas, but the shrimp cocktails you describe are available all over Mexico. They usually come in either a large goblet or pilsner glass, and they are delicious. Look for them in any restaurant that serves local specialties.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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dimsumfan, it has been so long since I went to Oaxaca, but there was a lot of good food to be had as well as good beaches, on the south/west coast (not sure these are in Oaxaca or not).

My most memorable meals are five (I started with three) 1) a little place on the town square in the city of Oaxaca, we ate the fresh salsa - I think they had several types but the pico de gallo was amazing ...we kept going back! 2) someplace written up for mole, the sauce was NOT to my liking, gritty and I was carefully keeping it seperate from my rice/chicken, when the proprieter came by and showed me how to eat it, but mixing i into my food! Oh well, I do recall being thinner then! 3) a spot that specialized in little snacks, we went there for a late lunch and had many small items, I seem to recall it is on the way out of town towards the ruins, but I could be wrong. 4), we went to the beach first Puerto Angel and then Huatulco. In Puerto Angel, we ate under the shade of a palapa on the beach, fresh fish simply prepared with local fruits and veggies. Beer out of an ice bucket - we thought we were in heaven! Lastly - In Hualtulco, we stayed at a big hotel, Sheraton or some such, and it was just getting built up. We had been travelling on the cheap until then, so the hotel was a big spluge. We went into town for dinner and every restaurant was trying to entice us in with tequila. Suffice to say, we ended up somewhere with delicious food, freshly grilled meats, fresh salsa and tons of shrimp! The proprietor was so happy we were eating in town and not at the hotels, because so many tourists just want a burger at the hotel! It was very interesting to discuss this. After dinner they brought us their signature drink something with kahlua, strawberries and tequila, sounds terrible but was really delicious.

Fly out of Oaxaca, we couldn't get trains too many problems - best to just pay up and get there fast. Have a great trip and tell us what you find.

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Fly out of Oaxaca, we couldn't get trains too many problems - best to just pay up and get there fast.  Have a great trip and tell us what you find.

Train service no longer exists. But once they get that super highway finished, getting to the beach from Oaxaca city will be fast and easy.

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My fondest memories of Huatulco were my meals at a small restaurant on the beach. Once,

While reading the menu, two children came up to us and offered up some of the largest clams we had ever seen....I bought them and then asked the restaurant chef to take the clams and prepare us Almejas Rellenas......the results was spectacular, aided by a few Coronas and we were in hog heaven.

I hope to go back someday soon......there are still bargains to be found in Huatulco.

You might try taking a cab to the nearby town of Los Cruces. some very good places to eat on the zocalo and very reasonably priced.


"We do not stop playing because we grow old,

we grow old because we stop playing"

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Attending the class twice, being part of two such distinct groups, my best advice about these [or any classes] is that they're going to be largely determined by the other folks attending.  I expected to be at the very low end in terms of knowledge, expertise, etc., and I wasn't--but then, I probably sell myself short.  Most annoying for me was having to spend time in a van next to an idiotic American making inane comments such as, "The only thing I don't like about Hispanics is the way they treat their animals," and then, back at the ranch, as Susana described the dishes we were to prepare and passed ingredients for us to sniff and fondle, exclaiming,  "Well, I think I'd prefer THIS dish without the star anise!"  You get the picture.  And I noticed that Susana and her staff responded very differently to the two groups.  I think a great deal of her--she is a funky woman, very earthy and very warm, but also la mama, as she herself admits, the person in charge of the show.

I'm seriously considering attending one of Susana's weeklong courses at her ranch. My biggest concern, though, is whether the direction of the classes will be influenced negatively by those in attendance. I assume this is much less likely to happen with a weeklong series. I just hate to get there and be disappointed.

Other than that, the school sounds amazing!

Has anyone attended the one of the weeklong classes? Any insights about my concern or the series in general? I haven't been able to find much information beyond the single day classes.

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Attending the class twice, being part of two such distinct groups, my best advice about these [or any classes] is that they're going to be largely determined by the other folks attending.  I expected to be at the very low end in terms of knowledge, expertise, etc., and I wasn't--but then, I probably sell myself short.  Most annoying for me was having to spend time in a van next to an idiotic American making inane comments such as, "The only thing I don't like about Hispanics is the way they treat their animals," and then, back at the ranch, as Susana described the dishes we were to prepare and passed ingredients for us to sniff and fondle, exclaiming,  "Well, I think I'd prefer THIS dish without the star anise!"  You get the picture.  And I noticed that Susana and her staff responded very differently to the two groups.  I think a great deal of her--she is a funky woman, very earthy and very warm, but also la mama, as she herself admits, the person in charge of the show.

I'm seriously considering attending one of Susana's weeklong courses at her ranch. My biggest concern, though, is whether the direction of the classes will be influenced negatively by those in attendance. I assume this is much less likely to happen with a weeklong series. I just hate to get there and be disappointed.

Other than that, the school sounds amazing!

Has anyone attended the one of the weeklong classes? Any insights about my concern or the series in general? I haven't been able to find much information beyond the single day classes.

I have conducted chocolate study tours to Mexico for many years. Oaxaca--and classes with Susana--are always included on my itineraries. Yes, it's possible that there may be an annoying person in your group, but that's a chance worth taking. Susana is a remarkable person and an excellent teacher. While I have not been in attendance at her week-long sessions, I know many people who have, and almost all of them have nothing but praise for her. (You just can't please everybody!)

Since chocolate is my specialty (and the subject of my tours), I always ask her to do some special things with chocolate while we're there. She has prepared a number of wonderful chocolate-spiked dishes for us over the years, including chocolate atole, a mystical cacao-corn beverage dating back to pre-colonial times.

Susana also conducts some pretty amazing tours throughout southern Mexico. She has a knack for finding undiscovered little gems that few tourists have ever visited. Don't pass up the chance to have her accompany you to the market. She knows everybody and you can tell that thev all respect her knowledge and admire her passion.

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Susana is delightful as ever.

Having just returned from Oaxaca, the Wednesday class with Susana was the absolute best ever. The menu was complex, and as usual, everything came together spectacularly, with all of the cooking teams turning out fantastic dishes.

We had the opportunity to use some recently gathered wild mushrooms in a yellow mole.

Now, here is a question for 'chocartist". Have you ever come across a home method, excluding a heated metate (I've done that) for grinding and converting cacao to a chocolate liquor in the home? My web research indicates a certain type of Champion juicer works but I was just curious. The Indian grocery stores sell electric devices with grinding stones but that is a costly investment.

Susana told me that the most fun extended excursion is her Veracruz trip for Carnival (Mardi Gras). Sign me up! My wife and I are going to be on that one for sure, so there will be two "fun" people (I guarantee) for you to hang out with.

I stayed, as always, at Casa Lidia, in the colonia Jalatlaco. A single including a terrific breakfast that features a different regional specialty each morning was $34 for a single. I love the quiet of the neighborhood and the easy walk to Santo Domingo. And I recommend it as the best bed and breakfast bargain in Oaxaca.

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Having just returned from Oaxaca,

How is the situation in Oaxaca these days, in light of the protests? I read that the hotels, markets, vendors and restaurants are taking a HUGE hit from lack of tourism. What did you see? How safe did it feel?

We are scheduled to go there in December, so I'm hoping the situation improves, though last Friday's travel warning from the U.S. State Department looks ominous.

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Susana is delightful as ever. 

Having just returned from Oaxaca, the Wednesday class with Susana was the absolute best ever.  The menu was complex, and as usual, everything came together spectacularly, with all of the cooking teams turning out fantastic dishes.

We had the opportunity to use some recently gathered wild mushrooms in a yellow mole.

Now, here is a question for 'chocartist".  Have you ever come across a home method, excluding a heated metate (I've done that) for grinding and converting cacao to a chocolate liquor in the home?  My web research indicates a certain type of Champion juicer works but I was just curious.  The Indian grocery stores sell electric devices with grinding stones but that is a costly investment.

Susana told me that the most fun extended excursion is her Veracruz trip for Carnival (Mardi Gras).  Sign me up!  My wife and I are going to be on that one for sure, so there will be two "fun" people (I guarantee) for you to hang out with.

I stayed, as always, at Casa Lidia, in the colonia Jalatlaco.  A single including a terrific breakfast that features a different regional specialty each morning was $34 for a single.  I love the quiet of the neighborhood and the easy walk to Santo Domingo. And I recommend it as the best bed and breakfast bargain in Oaxaca.

Regarding an alternate method to grinding cacao beans on a metate: Several years ago I conducted a chocolate/culinary tour to Tabasco with Marilyn Tausend, owner of Culinary Adventures. Chef Ricardo Munoz Zurita, who is originally from that area, accompanied us. Several of his aunts prepared specialties of the region for us, including many which contained cacao. The metate is rarely used to grind cacao beans in Tabasco. Instead, they have their beans ground at the local molino (grinding shop) or they use a hand grinder, clamped to the side of a table. I purchased one of these very inexpensive grinders in a grocery store adjacent to the market in Comalcalco--thinking I would actually use it. Well, I'm ashamed to admit that it's still in the box, unused. If you contact me, I would be very happy to send it to you since I know that I will probably never use it.

Zarela Martinez, author of The Food and Life of Oaxaca, offers another method of grinding cacao. She suggests warming the blades of a food processor before grinding the beans to a powder in the processor--and then grinding the powder to a paste in a molcajete. I'm known for having the patience of a saint, but I don't know if I'm up to doing all of that--just for the sake of grinding my own beans.


Edited by chocartist (log)

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Having just returned from Oaxaca,

How is the situation in Oaxaca these days, in light of the protests? I read that the hotels, markets, vendors and restaurants are taking a HUGE hit from lack of tourism. What did you see? How safe did it feel?

We are scheduled to go there in December, so I'm hoping the situation improves, though last Friday's travel warning from the U.S. State Department looks ominous.

My family and I are also scheduled to be in Oaxaca this December, Christmas week. Like Dimsumfan, I too would be interested in any knowlegeable insight into the situation there. Recent newspaper accounts make it appear as if the protests are increasing and broadening. Without commenting upon the underlying legitimacy of the protests, from the point of view of a possible visitor, the circumstances appear to be deteriorating rather than improving. Dimsumfan you may wish to make alternative plans, as we have already done so.

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